Chocolate Protein Quinoa Cups

As you read this I’ll be on my way to Florida!

I’m spending the week relaxing on the beach with my sisters and the kiddos before my new job begins. I’m also escaping just as New Jersey gets hit with even more snow ūüôā

This weekend involved a lot of laying around and cleaning. I’m totally the type of person that needs to make sure everything is organized and tidy before I leave on vacation or start something new. I scrubbed down the kitchen, swept the floors, went through everything in my closet – best feeling ever!

On Saturday I was also able to make it to the park for a quick bout of fresh air. I didn’t stay long though – I was underdressed and it was freezing!

park

It felt good just to be outside and remember that spring is coming, albeit very slowly.

These dudes didn’t seem to mind the weather.

geese

There was also some successful kitchen experiments.

A few weeks ago I wrote that I started eating quinoa for breakfast. Previously,  I only enjoyed the grain in savory preparations,  but eating it for breakfast completely opened my mind to new possibilities. The following recipe is pretty hard to mess up, so feel free to experiment with whatever you have in the kitchen.

Chocolate Protein Quinoa Cups

Makes 14 regular sized ‘muffins’

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (!!!)
  • 3 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp stevia

Directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the quinoa using the directions on the package and start brewing some coffee, or use the leftovers from breakfast.
  3. ¬†In an effort to make as little mess as possible, throw all the ingredients into one giant bowl and stir it up! If the batter doesn’t start coming together, add more coffee.¬†
  4. Pour the gooey chocolate mixture into muffin tins (I recommend silicone baking cups!) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the muffins harden and the inside is no longer gooey.

chocolate protein quinoa cups

I usually loosely follow some kind of recipe when I cook, but this was my first time truly just winging it and the results were great! These not only taste chocolatey and delicious, but are packed with protein and whole grains. They make the perfect breakfasts, post workout snacks or even desert.

Happy Monday!

 

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Banana Bran Muffins (sugar free!)

I have a whole bag of wheat bran to use following last weekend’s bread baking adventure and am putting it to good use.

The thing about baking is, it typically involves bunch of ingredients I don’t often have on hand and don’t particularly want to eat like butter, sugar and milk.

Health-ifying recipes for your needs is easy enough when you’re fearless in the kitchen and know the right substitutions.

bananaAlmond milk for regular milk.

Flax seed for eggs.

Oil and mashed banana/apple sauce for butter.

Stevia for sugar.

The outcome is low calorie, satisfying and delicious.

banana bran muffins

Banana Bran Muffins (sugar free!)

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbs liquid egg whites
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp white stevia powder (Nunaturals brand – I have no idea about the taste of other brands)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the flour, wheat bran, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl until combined.
  • In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas.
  • Combine the milk, egg whites, vanilla, oil and bananas with the dry ingredients and stir until the batter comes together. It should be clumpy and thick.
  • Spoon the batter into your muffin tins all the way to the top – these won’t rise much.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

What’s cookin’?

This weekend was about extremes.

Extreme saying goodbye to my job and coworkers.

Goodbye desk!

Extreme shopping for new business appropriate clothes.

And Sunday brought extreme cooking.

One of my biggest fears with this new job and new schedule is that all my healthy habits will be threatened by two excuses.

Too busy. Too tired.

As in, “I’m too busy to cook breakfast/lunch/dinner.”

As in, “I’m too tired to go to the gym after commuting into the city.”

Which is why yesterday’s cooking madness happened.

Instead of worry, I whisked.

Instead of stress, I stirred.

Instead of getting worked up, I grated.

Two and a half zucchinis later…

Instead of breaking down, I baked.

Cooking has to be consistent for me to be successful with weight loss, this I know.

That’s why I took extra care today, extra time, to make sure that my fridge was stocked with food to throw together for quick meals.

Zucchini bread for breakfast.

On the right, almond flour/paleo zucchini bread. On the left, whole wheat/oil free zucchini bread.

Five lunches prepped for packing.

Sorry for the fridge full of Tupperware, roomie!

A week’s worth of turkey meatballs for easy dinners.

Hello, lovelies.

I’m determined not to let too much change as I adjust to a new schedule.¬†¬†You won’t see any frozen meals rotating in the microwave in this apartment.

That being said, it’s time for me to head to the train!

Details of all this delicious food on Wednesday. See you then!

 

Red, White, and….Food!

Happy July 4th!

Are you sick of fireworks yet? My favorite fireworks experience has to be a few years ago when I was on a ferry from Delaware to New Jersey. I had no idea they were going to be set off, but right in the middle of the hour-long boat ride the sky lit up with explosions. It was a fun surprise and made the trip go a little bit faster.

This month Jenn at Peas and Crayons¬†has asked everyone participating in “What I ate Wednesday” to include some fitness along with the daily eats, so I thought I would talk about some of my fitness goals…or I guess lack of fitness goals. Because I honestly don’t have any right now.

I’ve been slacking on any kind of disciplined workouts besides taking long walks (3+ miles) every day. If I was a criminal, walking would be my M.O.¬†It’s my preferred exercise and really the only consistent exercise I’ve done throughout my weight loss.

That being said, I was on the ball with strength training for a while with twice-weekly iron pumping sessions at the gym and have kind of let that fall by the wayside. Weight training made a huge difference in how I felt about my body and I think it also sped up my metabolism, so I’m ready to kick that into high gear again.

For me, exercise is more about keeping my stress levels down and less about the effect it has on weight loss, so as long as I’m doing something to sweat on the regular, I don’t really worry about what or how intense it is.

Ya dig? ūüėČ

Onto the eats!

Breakfast:¬†More oatmeal. I’m not sure what’s going on. Usually when the temperature rises I stop craving oatmeal and start craving smoothies, but my taste buds apparently still think it’s winter, so oats it is! In the pot went 1 banana, 1/2 cup of oats, 12 g of flaxseed meal and a few shakes of cinnamon. I like my oats really soupy, so I added 1.5 cups of water and stirred until they were done.

I also put my coffee ice cubes to work this week with my lazy version of iced coffee. Here’s the secret: I make a giant pot of coffee at night. Half goes in the ice cube try and half goes in a mug. The ice cube tray goes in the freezer and the mug goes in the fridge and in the morning they all combine for iced coffee bliss. So easy and so¬†cheap!

Lunch:¬†I had the same salad I raved about last week, except I topped it with Trader Joe’s Hummus Dressing this week. Butter lettuce, baby carrots, almonds, avocado, and a 4 oz chicken breast. Perfection.

Snack:¬†A few handfuls of (un-pictured) granola taken from a coworker’s snack stash. Thanks Kipp, you do read my blog…right??? ūüôā

Dinner: Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna from the vegan food/family/wonderful blog Peas and Thank You. In true Jodster fashion, I used the recipe as more of a guide rather than exact road map, but it all came together in a delicious casserole. Despite the dish not actually having any noodles or mozzarella cheese or typical lasagna ingredients, the quinoa really soaked up all the flavors of a traditional lasagna. I would totally make this again and stick it under the category of comfort food.

It was easy to assemble and did not come out watery, which has been my biggest challenge when making no-noodle lasagnas. As I’m not vegan, I decided to go with sharp cheddar cheese instead of a vegan cheese and added much more than the 1/2 cup that Mama Pea suggests for extra gooey goodness.

After it came out of the oven, I divided the lasagna into six servings for a week of dinners. Healthy meal planning at its best.

Dessert:¬†Watermelon and a homemade coconut oil chocolate bar. The three-ingredient chocolate bars from Chocolate-Covered Katie turned out better than I could have ever imagined. It’s coconut-y. It’s¬†chocolate-y. It’s amazing and makes for the perfect dessert.

After my evening walk I also snacked on a few almonds before hitting the pillow.

Fun fact: I keep my almonds in a pickle jar in the fridge. The pickle jar is just because it was the only jar I had lying around, but keeping the nuts cold really helps them stay crisp and crunchy. Stale nuts are good for no one. You’re welcome.

 

Now…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 166.5

This week: 164.5

Change: -2

Total loss: 78.5

All in a day’s eats – WIAW

Hi there!

Let’s talk food ūüôā

I have a confession to make, I get stuck on certain foods and just want to eat them over and over and over again.

Oatmeal? Every day.

Zucchini? Three a week.

Bananas? Can’t imagine a world without them.

My penchant for wanting the same foods over and over has solved a few common challenges that people run into when starting to eat healthier Рmainly price and time.

There’s a myth that choosing healthy foods costs more money and that cooking (especially for one) takes a lot of time, but this could not be further from the truth.

I change up what I eat from week to week, but within the week I eat the same meal for lunch every day and the same meal for dinner every day. I’m on strict budget with grocery shopping and have a crazy work schedule, but this method of meal planning has been a¬†savior¬†for time, money and my weight. Here’s why:

1. Meal planning saves money. Every Sunday I browse Pinterest and some other recipe sites for meal ideas. I make my shopping list on my iPhone and then go into the supermarket knowing exactly what I need. I always want to try new foods, and if let loose I would buy up the entire fruit and produce section, so having a plan helps me stick to my budget. Before I started cooking I used to waste so much food because it would go bad before I could eat it, but that never happens anymore.

2. Meal planning saves time. With my plan set, I can prep all my lunches and dinners on the weekend so they are grab-and-go ready for during the week. This has helped me break any dependency on frozen meals, convenience foods and it ensures that I’m never tempted to eat out. Sometimes I’ll make one big dish (like soup or chili or a casserole) and portion it out to easily reheat during the week but other times I’ll have a set protein (like a turkey burger, chicken sausages or shrimp) and a few different veggies that I know I can quickly throw together for quick and simple dinners.

Why am I talking about all of this? Because I’ve decided to participate in the blogging phenomenon What I ate Wednesday. Below is every single thing I ate on Tuesday. I get questions all the time about what a typical day of food looks like for me – so here it is!

Breakfast: Stove-top oatmeal (1/2 cup oats; 2 tbsp flax meal; 1 banana; 1-1/2 cups water; tons of cinnamon). A giant cup of coffee with a generous pour of unsweetened almond milk. I also had another coffee with soy milk mid-morning.

Lunch: 2 hard-boiled eggs; a container filled with broccoli, carrots and cucumbers; 1/4 cup hummus (homemade Рso much cheaper!); 1 cheese stick; 1/2 oz raw almonds

Snack: 100 g of grapes; 30 g of avocado (Yes, I really do weigh everything. I would cry if my food scale broke)

Dinner: 2 chicken sausages; 1/2 zucchini; 10 asparagus

Dessert: 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; 1oo g blueberries

It’s also…weigh-in Wednesday…so here we go:

…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 166.5

This week: 167

Change: +.5

Total loss: 76

Whole thinking

There are a lot of ways to eat. I change my mind frequently about what works best for me, more meat and less carbs or mostly vegetarian with lots of beans, lentils and whole grains, etc.

But this weekend, as I was still recovering from being sick and laying in bed, I realized a few things while watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives.”

No matter what kind of food philosophy I’m following, the focus should always be on whole, unprocessed foods.¬†There are a few pieces of advice I’ve really taken to heart when it comes to my food shopping and eating habits and one of them is “shop the¬†perimeter¬†of the store.” This is where the freshest food is, and the food that I want to be eating. Before, I use to peruse up and down every isle. Now I will venture into the middle of the grocery store only if it’s for something specific, like coffee or canned tomatoes (which apparently I shouldn’t be eating either) so I don’t get sucked in by advertising and processed food.

The other thing I realized during this documentary is that I don’t miss not thinking about my food, which I did for a while. My healthy living journey has taken me from someone who never cared about what they ate to someone who carefully plans every single food choice. There have definitely been days where I wished I could go back to being a person who didn’t analyze everything on my plate, but this weekend I realized I no longer felt that way. Somewhere along my path, my sometimes-desire to return to a state of unknowing about nutrition disappeared. This doesn’t mean that I always eat perfectly, but it definitely increases the likelihood of making good choices.

I also really like like Michael Pollan’s line from this NYT article he wrote: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” In the article he makes the argument for a diet rich in real food (i.e. food your great grandmother would recognize), stopping eating before you are full and choosing foods that are plant based.

The power of food continues to amaze me. I was stunned when I watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” about how juicing has transformed people’s lives.

And for a documentary that will make you think about how much food is wasted, I definitely recommend “Dive.” It follows a family (and a culture of people) whose meals are mainly salvaged from dumpsters. Unlike “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” the documentary didn’t make me want to go out and dumpster dive, but it did make me think about possibly volunteering or donating to one of the food shelters around here.

With so much diet¬†propaganda¬†circulating in our culture, figuring out the right way to eat can be seriously overwhelming. But like most tough problems, the right answer is usually the simplest. Eat real, whole foods. It’s hard to go wrong with this philosophy.

I would love to know your thoughts! I know there are a lot of other documentaries out there that talk about food and I’m slowly making my way through all of them. On my short list are “King Corn” and “Food, Inc.”

What has changed or influenced the way you think about food?

 

 

Great(er) Expectations

I’ve tackled a lot of things in my 1+ year of losing weight.

But there’s one big thing I still feel like I really struggle with: social eating.

Honestly, when I decided I was going to lose weight, I stopped eating out with friends. I literally asked my friends not to ask me to dinner. Pre-weight loss I used to meet friends for meals all the time, never turn down an invite to a party and was always up for splitting a bottle of wine.

For a while I threw around excuses.

“I don’t have the money to eat out” – usually true

“I already ate out a couple times this week” – rarely true

“I’m really trying to lose X amount by X date, so after that I can go to X restaurant” – this meant it was never going to happen

I skipped SuperBowl parties (“I hate watching football!”), I skipped invitations to friends houses for dinners, I skipped impromptu nights at the bar.

Bloggeer Lisa Eirene (lost 110 pounds!) recently wrote about a party she went to and her strategy for eating without going overboard and it got me thinking about my own strategy (i.e. being MIA) when it came to eating out.

And with a wedding Saturday (hello, buffet!) and Memorial Day barbeques coming up, I think it’s about time for me to learn how to eat reasonably without a food scale and measuring cups.

My strategy for holidays and other gatherings before had just been to give myself permission to eat whatever I wanted for that night. I know it’s not the best way to approach things, but I also know that nights like that are RARE and not reflective of how I eat 95 percent of the time.

But, I think I can do better than that.

I want to strike a balance between not obsessing about the calories and giving myself room to eat things I might not normally eat without the feeling of coming to an oasis in a desert and stuffing myself.

You see, my eating habits don’t make me feel deprived now, but that’s because I’m not around foods that I would rather not eat.

When I’m around foods I don’t normally eat in a social setting, I sometimes feel pressure to eat them or eat more than I normally would so I don’t feel….diet-y.

Some of this comes from not wanting to deal with people commenting on what I am, or am not eating, and some of this comes from the mentality I had growing up…where if I didn’t eat all the “bad” foods at a party, I would never have another opportunity to at home. My parents usually just threw the food out or hid the food, so it was always a “now or never” thing…which of course led me down the road of binge eating.

Anyway, this is starting to go off in too many directions.

Moral of the story: I can learn to leave my food issues behind and eat “normally” in social settings, but it’s going to take work and effort, just like everything in life.

Let’s move on to…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 169

This week: 168

Change: -1

Total loss: 75

These oats were made for talking

I was really craving oatmeal this weekend after going without my favorite breakfast for a whole month! I didn’t want to forgo protein altogether, however, so decided to make stove-top oats with whipped egg whites.

I’m not sure why I never tried it before, after seeing recipes for such all over the¬†internet. I think I thought it would be difficult or something. Not true. I followed Andie’s method at Can You Stay for Dinner?¬†but changed the measurements a bit.

In the bowl:

  • 1/2 cup Quaker oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional…but I think they help increase the fluffiness)
  • vanilla, cinnamon, honey

Follow the directions from her recipe exactly and prepare yourself for the most amazing bowl of oatmeal you will ever eat. Fluffy, creamy, and really, really filling. I’m officially in love.

In honor of my grand return to oatmeal this weekend, I thought I would share with you some of my other favorite oat recipes, from more of my favorite bloggers.

  1. It all began with the KERF method for making banana-whipped oatmeal. This is, without a doubt, the recipe that got me hooked on oats.
  2. For weekends, I go with oatmeal pancakes, recipe by Carrots ‘n’ Cake.
  3. My fall oatmeal staple: Fannetastic Food’s Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.
  4. And my go-to summer breakfast: KERF’s overnight oats

Oat-tastic! heh ūüėČ

ALSO.

Have you noticed the changes to the blog?? I finally got my own domain! After freaking out for a bit, I think I finally settled on a design I love. I hope you like it, too!

Also, also – I added a “Contact” page…so you can email me if you have a question or a comment or something. I also added every weigh-in from the beginning under the “Weight Loss” tab. There you can find a link which will open a spreadsheet of my weight loss progression from October 2010 to now.

Happy Monday!

Quick Coconut Shrimp Curry

I know I’ve struck gold with a recipe when my taste buds crave it night after night.

And that’s exactly how I feel about this super quick and super easy coconut curry shrimp dish.

It’s bold and flavorful with a hearty amount of spice and feels rich and creamy even though it contains only a teaspoon of oil and light coconut milk.

Quick Coconut Shrimp Curry

For one

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz of frozen, cooked shrimp
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • For more spice, add in a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  • Thaw frozen shrimp following directions on the package.
  • In a pan just big enough to lay all the shrimp flat, heat the olive oil. Over low heat, add in all the ingredients and stir until the spices are well mixed and any clumps are gone. Lay each shrimp flat in the pan. Because these shrimp are already cooked, you are really just warming them. They can become tough and chewy if cooked too long, so only cook until hot, a minute or two on each side.
  • Remove the shrimp and cover to keep warm
  • Turn the heat on the pan all the way up and cook the remaining liquid, stirring constantly, until the sauce reduces and thickens.¬†Pour over the shrimp and enjoy!

Weigh-in Wednesday, a paleo update and more!

I feel like we have so much to talk about! Here are 10 things about my week:

1. I’ve been cooking up a storm! So many people say they don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning or don’t have energy to cook after work, but cooking is such a stress reliever for me I look forward to it. I’ve been extra¬†diligent¬†about keeping the kitchen clean as well. Nothing screams “cook!” more than a spotless kitchen stocked with healthy food.

2. I made turkey meatballs stuffed with tons of veggies to eat for dinner this week, inspired by this recipe from Paleo Plan. Meatballs are so easy to make and even easier to reheat for quick work-night dinners, I should really make them more often. I followed the recipe almost exactly, except substituted the green peppers (yuck) for grated zucchini (yum) and added one egg to the mixture. Turned out delicious!

3. For three days I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to put together a recipe for apple cinnamon coconut flour pancakes, but can’t get it exactly right. Either the pancakes come out too dry or they are too moist and take forever to cook and I can’t flip them! But don’t worry, I plan to keep trying…

4. I tried Ethiopian food for the first time on Sunday at Mesob in Montclair. HIGHLY recommend it. The food was delicious and cheap!

5. I made pumpkin coconut flour muffins following this recipe from Cindy’s Table. They came out amazing! I’m currently eating one with one plain Greek yogurt. Can’t wait to have another for breakfast! Also, when I was buying the cupcake tins, I kept thinking they looked so tiny! Working near a Crumbs, which NPR called out for its ridiculous cupcakes, has seriously distorted my portion sizes.

6. It’s supposed to be almost 70 degrees outside tomorrow! Who else is planning to leave work early and go¬†frolic¬†in a park??

7. The other day I was feeling really lazy and had to bribe myself to go run. I said, “Listen, Jodster (yes, I call myself Jodster when giving pep talks), just do two miles.” Later I was thinking, I can’t believe two miles sounds like an easy run for me! It seems like yesterday that I was dreading the 20-minute run in Couch to 5K.

8. Relating to that last point, my bff Tracey totally called me out on my recent sucky attitude toward my body. She reminded me to be conscious of my progress, even though in my head it feels like I haven’t made any lately. Since that talk, I’ve really tried to take her words to heart and recommit myself to being body positive¬†and thankful. Before I started trying to lose weight, I didn’t expect much of my body. I didn’t ask it to run, demand anything of it physically or expect it to shed fat. I’m having a hard time not fighting my body through this process, which is affecting my confidence and self-esteem. I plan to write about these things way more in the future (since the emotional side of weight loss is the whole reason I started the blog) but it’s a tough subject to broach. I will do it, however, because I need to do it.

9. Have anyone else’s allergies been driving them nuts lately? My sinuses are making my whole face hurt and I felt like my throat was on the verge of closing all day and I couldn’t get enough air in. So annoying!

10. I owe you a paleo update. Since releasing myself from a restriction mindset on Monday, I’ve felt much better about all the changes to my diet. I stopped reading paleo blogs completely, except to look up recipes, and almost¬†immediately¬†the panic of “AM I DOING THIS RIGHT” subsided. I have to say, there truly are some benefits from increased protein and decreased sugar. My meals keep my hunger at bay for much, much, much longer than pre-paleo meals. For example, pre paleo my typical breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal and a banana. This had 54 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein for about 250 calories. The coconut pancakes I’ve been making are also about 250 calories, but have 32 grams of carbs, 9 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein. And tomorrow, the pumpkin coconut flour muffin with half a cup of 2% plain Greek yogurt and 1/2 a tablespoon of sunflower seed butter will be about 300 calories, 17 grams of carbs, 19 grams of fat and 19 grams of protein.¬†I used to be starving by lunch time, but now my breakfast keeps me satisfied for much longer, and I can see why!

I wouldn’t say I have more energy on a paleo diet, but my energy is more consistent through the day. I used to get really tired from around 3-5 p.m. and haven’t experienced that lately. This could be all in my head, since I’ve read so much about the effects of going paleo, but it really feels like I don’t have dips or spikes in my energy levels anymore. I also noticed that when I do start to feel hungry, it’s not with the same level of urgency. I can realize that I’m hungry without an immediate need to eat.

That being said, I was pretty terrible at being consistent this week. Actually, that’s not totally true. I managed to make really great food choices the whole week, except for the amount of alcohol that I drank. I was hungover twice, did many sugary shots and consumed way too many mixed drinks. Not the healthiest choices. I also really slacked at going to the gym. Usually I have plenty of time to get up in the morning, make breakfast, go to the gym and shower before work but the last few weeks my job has been really stressful and I’ve been going in earlier and earlier. I know that’s not an excuse, and I’m pledging to make time for exercise no matter what this week – for the sake of my sanity more than anything else!

Wow that was a lot. Here are the numbers:

The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 174.5

This week: 176

Change: +1.5

Total loss: 67